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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MOVING DOWN ISLAND ......................................



We did round that rocky outcrop nicely and anchored in TRUNK BAY for lunch ................Coleslaw & chicken ......... Then off again to the next anchorage in the British Virgin Islands ............... Only about 10 miles and no idea where the border is ..............We probably crossed it several times while weaving back and forth to NORMAN ISLAND ............... Incredibly crowded now that the 'cruising season' is in full swing ............... And 'Grand Yachts' are everywhere, with that stately bearing of 'Presidential yachts' and vessels that Horatio Hornblower would be proud to serve in ...... Double-click on any of the photos to sharpen them and enlarge them, ......



We climbed the hillside in the early morning on NORMAN ISLAND to take the shots that look down upon PIRATE BAY............



At the very top of the hill you can see most of the islands, that are really the peaks of former volcanic upheavals and in the distance the massive cloud bank that is rolling towards us ............ Time to move once more ............ Time to head to SPANISH TOWN and clear in with Customs and Immigration ............ You should really do that, you know ............Even if the locals in the USVI you just saw, walk right past you again in the BVIs ........



Sneaking around a corner with the dinghy, we come upon the old-timer "Spirit of Massachusett - BOSTON".......... Crew busy painting and scrubbing .............The flags stained with the tar from the rigging .............On a wooden gaffer like this the work never ends ................



Did you notice all the pelicans perched on the rocks ................Each one sitting directly above its own guano deposit .............. All of them observing us as we observe them until they all flew off for a breakfast session of " FRENZY FEEDING "



Could have stayed all day to watch the antics of the pelicans, we could reach out and touch them ................See the video below ................But the bad weather is on the way ............ The motor yacht below, passed us on the way south to the 'Bitter End' of Virgin gorda at 3pm, while we were holding on with all fours .........An ugly sea with 8ft waves and the wind on the nose at 25 knots ..............We are motoring into it full force ......... "Hang on Laurie, here comes another big one"


video

Sunday, December 26, 2010

FOR JUST ONE DAY A YEAR .................................



Finally, yes finally...............We were able to extricate ourselves from PUERTO RICO and the beautiful, warm and hospitable Spanish Virgin Islands............And travel only a short distance to the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. THOMAS where evidence of the recent hurricane EARL could be seen on the foreshore................Inside the channel where there once was a steel dolphin marker, there is now only a remnant sticking above the water ............The 'guide' has become the 'hazard' ............We load up with fuel and water, anchor in the harbour at CHARLOTTE AMALIE and wake up in the morning to a world gone mad...................CHRISTMAS DAY AND NOT A SINGLE CRUISE SHIP ANYWHERE ................ .........No traffic, no people, no noise ....................And it stayed that way all day .......What a shock to the system ............



The "Queen of Everything" still manages to call all those within reach and wish them the SEASON'S GREETINGS ............
Doesn't it just kill you..............86 degrees Fahrenheit, wearing a bikini under that rainbow piece of chiffon, and still standing with both feet in the Northern Hemisphere ............. Photos like this probably cause me to lose cold-weather friends, but .... Oh, well...... No wonder everybody wants to jump on a cruise ship this time of the year ..... And there were certainly plenty of "Mega Yachts" and private yachts in the harbour .....................All, without exception, flying the flags of those little island countries barely a hundred feet above water, where there are more banks than people ................ Now why is that?

"OOPSIE" ................Someone on 'CAKEWALK' has left the garage door open ...... We have found out subsequently that this is the largest private yacht built in the USA since 1930, and at a cost of $US 82m ............plus some change....



And here is something truly amazing .............. A sailing yacht giving birth to a baby yacht .............. Awesome, and no doubt the other black-hulled sailing yacht is also expecting, for look at the size of it compared to the size of the people on deck ................ We watched as more than forty people emerged from down below ....................(Double click on the photo to enlarge it)..........



A day after Christmas and everything is back to normal ...............Obviously 'Google Earth' must have taken the aerial photo on Christmas Day ............Plenty of yachts at anchor but no cruise ships.



The U.S. VIRGINS were purchased from Denmark in 1917, obviously with the intention of building a long cruise ship dock, and today the islands are a mixture of cultures, religions and ethnic groups clearly seen in the market places along the waterfront .............



But when you suddenly realize that a 30ft high palm tree outside 'HOOTERS", in St. Thomas, is made entirely of fake plastic ( what a perfect place for it and not half subtle, is it?), then it is time to pick up anchor and 'mosey-on-out' .............. first we escape the International Cruise ship pirates, and after rounding this rocky outcrop near Caneel Bay in the island of St. John, we put the anchor down again in beautiful TRUNK BAY .............. More to follow later ................


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"QUEEN'S" BIRTHDAY WEEKEND .............................



Anywhere in the former BRITISH EMPIRE you will find the Queen's Birthday weekend is celebrated in June each year, but on the yacht "ARITA", where the "QUEEN of Florida and the Bahamas" has her residency, this celebration occurs on the weekend of the 18th December each year .............. This year is no exception ................From far and wide the inflatable dinghies began arriving to this surprise party, catching the 'Queen of Everything' totally unawares ................ Surprises are supposed to do that ................ Thirty or so cruiser-types arrived at the yacht in full ceremonial dress, (the yacht that is, not the cruiser types) ........... Most laden with food and drink .................And continued to partake of same, till the late hours of the evening, thereby leaving again with 'food and drink' ........... Certainly after dark, one dinghy looks pretty much the same as any other ............... Not so? .......You kind of lower yourself in and hope for the best ................

Suffice it to say that everyone must have had a great time, for the garbage bag in the morning was sizable and certainly extremely heavy ............Believe it or not, the wine bottles outnumbered the beer bottles ....................





What can I say, other than that we brought the party to new heights ................. Is that 'one-up-manship' or 'two-up-manship' or 'many-up-manship' ............



And slowly the sun set on the revelers as Laurie celebrated her birthday in grand style .............



And as the winter solstice approaches, there is a perfect moon over the quiet waters of Bahia Honda in CULEBRA P.R. ................ What a way to go to sleep before the birthday party continues ................. We travel early next morning to the mainland once more and on to SAN JUAN, the Capital, to meet with Captain Dwight (El Presidente) Rodriguez and Marjorie for more festivities and celebration and ultimately a bitter-sweet farewell .............But first, they took us again to the magical "ATLANTICO" seafood restaurant, and in the morning for a wonderful breakfast .............. And you will notice that 'Chocolate farewell' finale...........



So one more last look at San Juan and the ocean waves, before we drive back to FAJARDO at the eastern end of PUERTO RICO and the ferry ride to CULEBRA ................ Not that it is the end of the celebration .............. Not by any means, heck no,.......... We still have to do yet another birthday cake and dinner on the yacht 'KUHELA' with hosts Harry & Linda, who did a superb job organizing all the food and drink for the surprise party on ARITA .......... Was it really two days ago .................... Yes, the party continues ...............



Now Christmas in Puerto Rico may not always be celebrated in the more traditional format ................. Here it is December, and 86 degrees in the shade ...........We saw some trees for sale by the road side ................... Not your average Christmas tree either .............. The bright red and blue ones were already sold, as were the brilliant yellow ones, but these pastel ones remained ............... A little something to enhance your decor perhaps, or blend in with the furnishings ............... No more green, red and holly here ............... Rather decorate with some bougainvillea and frangipani for Christmas, and a bit of that wonderful COQUITO ..............Flavoured rum with coconut .........

Our Christmas will be very quiet ...............Rest and recuperation is sorely needed, now that this three-day celebration has come to an end ..... The "Queen" and I will be 'in absentia' ........